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It’s been three years since our last One Days HK short. And five years since we made our very first one! Honestly, I didn’t think it would have gone on this long but I’m really pleased that it has. If you haven’t watched any of the shorts from this series, it’s basically a collection of stories based and inspired by the people and places of Hong Kong. They were all made while we happened to be traveling in Asia and each short was shot in one day. Those are the “rules” we made for ourselves.
In this most recent short, “Left on Shing Wong” a young writer, Vincent, encounters a very unique spirit played by Robynn Yip. He soon learns she’s responsible for collecting and protecting all the lost thoughts and memories that get left behind on the stairs as people go up and down them. Furthermore, he learns how new ideas and inspirations are created. In a sense, Robynn is a muse.
The story structure is circular. It begins with Vincent just after having met Robynn and his retelling of the encounter. When it starts, Vincent is totally stuck not knowing what to write but after his meeting with Robynn, he starts to tell her story. The only indication of this is that the short starts and ends with the same line “Today, the steps on the hill told me their secret.”
The concept for this story came up at the last minute (as most things tend to do for me). I knew I wanted to make something while we were traveling to Hong Kong. And I also knew I didn’t want it to be centered around boy/girl romantic couple. It’s not that I have anything against that kind of story. But at the time, I had just finished the short “Somewhere Like This” which was heavily focused on a romantic relationship. For this HK short, I wanted to try something different. A good friend of ours, Carmen Chan, introduced me to the the stairs on Shing Wong Street of Sheung Wan. There are certain places in the world that are simply inspiring. I believe the hillside steps on Shing Wong Street is one of those places. So much so, that it made me think of notion of inspiration and how it could be explained. I thought about the act of going up and down stairs. What do people think about? What do people remember? What do they forget? It’s such a rhythmic everyday action but I knew a story could come from it. I was really pleased with the idea of a spirit that roams the stairs because it felt very different from our usual content. We don’t usually tell fantasy stories, so it was fun to explore the genre. Actually, if there had been more time, I wanted to dive deeper into her character and perhaps how she could return one of Vincent’s lost memories to him. I definitely think there’s room to explore the idea further. I’d like to believe there are more spirits like Robynn’s character all around the world. In another short for the future? Maybe :]
The production of “Left on Shing Wong” couldn’t have been possible without some really awesome friends. Helen Ma, who has been in three One Days HK shorts, helped us find props and also introduced us to Vincent Poon. The night before the shoot, she guided us around the city to find the mason jar (from IKEA) and the marbles (from Goldfish Street). Alex Lee, a student from HKBU, helped as a production assistant. Caleb and Josh Ng of Common Ground graciously offered their space for us to shoot in and around.
Robynn Yip is a long time friend of Wong Fu Productions. We met in Chicago years ago during our first university tour. Since then, she moved to Hong Kong and pursued music and is now part of the successful musical duo, Robynn and Kendy. Check out their music HERE! Robynn’s been in another One Days HK short called “See Through” directed by Phil. We’ve always wanted to feature her again so it was really nice to work on this one with her. Being able to feature Kendy made it all the better too! It’s also important to note how helpful it is to have people that can help translate an English script to Cantonese! The dialogue is very dense and definitely not everyday vocabulary but with their help, I think we got it down just right!
Interestingly, we shot this short six months ago but only finished it now. Kenson and I are big fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s work and we both felt that this short had a Miyazaki feel to it. I know that’s claiming a lot haha. In any case, Kenson found inspiration from Joe Hisaishi’s music and other sources as well. This is one of my favorite scores that he’s composed and I think it truly adds so much to the piece. We also spent a good amount of time discussing how the marble visuals could be enhanced to create that magical feel. The end product had them glowing while floating and more solidified when at rest.
Thanks so much for watching!